Very Versatile Bread Crumbs

November 15, 2008

I recently had the pleasure of working with, then testing, one of Walter Pisano’s recipes for an upcoming article in The Seattle Times Sunday magazine, Pacific Northwest. The article discusses Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian feast served on Christmas Eve. Walter is the chef/owner of Tulio Ristorante in downtown Seattle, a place we frequent for its warm and inviting ambience and Walter’s divine Italian home-style cooking with a twist. Not to mention Christmas Eve, when he serves several of the Feast dishes in addition to his regular menu.

Here’s a photo of his Vongole Ripieni–Baked Stuffed Clams with Toasted Parmesan Bread Crumbs–truly one of the best bites I’ve ever put in my mouth.

Baked Stuffed Clams with Toasted Parmesan Bread Crumbs are on the Christmas Eve menu at Tulio Ristorante.

And here’s what I did with some leftover clams, clam broth, and buttery bread crumbs, which combined perfectly with whole-wheat pasta and a handful of Alaskan spot prawns.

A pasta dish inspired by Tulio\'s Baked Stuffed Clams.

Look for my article on Feast of the Seven Fishes and Walter’s stuffed clams recipe in Pacific Northwest magazine on Sunday, December 21. 


Oyster Wine Competition

September 24, 2008

Lane Hoss, director of marketing at Elliott\'s Restaurants, fills in her official judges\' form at the 14th annual Oyster Wine Competition.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the 14th annual Oyster Wine Competition at Anthony’s Homeport on Seattle’s Shilshole Bay in April, not as one of about a dozen judges, but as research for an upcoming story for Pacific Northwest, The Seattle Times Sunday magazine. It was a fascinating experience watching the judges slurp an oyster, chew it, then take a sip of one of the 20 wines that were being judged for their “bliss factor” when paired with Kumamoto oysters. You can read the results in the October 5 issue of Pacific Northwest; in the meantime, here’s veteran oyster judge Lane Hoss, marketing director of Anthony’s, hard at work.



Riesling Rendezvous Redux

September 1, 2008

In late July, I was honored to be invited to attend the second annual Riesling Rendezvous conference at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington. It was truly a life-changing experience as 200 producers, media members, and distributors gathered at the venerable chateau, spending two-and-one-half days tasting through hundreds of Rieslings from Germany, Austria, Australia, Michigan, the Finger Lakes, and even Tasmania!

Wines ready for the tasting at the Riesling Rendezvous conference in late July 2008.

Twice a day we did comparative tastings of up to 30 Riesling samples at a time, and I’m happy to say that Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia definitely held their own. Perhaps I’m prejudiced, but our wines offered a fruity freshness and refreshing vitality missing in some of the petrol-heavy, knifely acidic, Old World wines.

I’m scheduled to write an article on my experiences for Pacific Northwest, The Seattle Times Sunday magazine, in 2009, so please stay tuned. 

The Cider Challenge!

August 31, 2008

A hard-cider taste-off pitted 32 bottles from around the Pacific Northwest.

My September 21 article for Pacific Northwest, The Seattle Times Sunday magazine, is tentatively titled, “The Cider House Rules,” and it features an interview with Drew Zimmerman, co-owner of Red Barn Cider in the Skagit Valley.

A few weeks after the interview, ably assisted by beer experts Charles and Rose Ann Finkel (owners of The Pike Brewing Company) and by my hubby Spencer Johnson, we gathered 31 Northwest ciders (and one hailing from England) and held an informal cider taste-off. 

Here we are in the heat of the challenge, swirling, sniffing, and dissecting the ciders that came from as far north as Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and as far south as Salem, Oregon. 

Cheese Whiz

August 2, 2008

It doesn\'t get any cuter than this photo!

My August 17 story for “Pacific Northwest,” The Seattle Times’ Sunday magazine, will feature Julie Steil, owner of River Valley Cheese in Fall City, Washington. Here are some of the adorable baby goats she milks twice a day.

Sheer panic amid the yaks!

And here is your intrepid reporter getting up close (and far too personal, in my opinion) with some other members of Julie’s herd. The goats nibbled my denim jacket and pants legs, while the yak butted me in the buttocks, and the water buffalo looks like he’s about to charge!

Fire Barrel Cider at the Big Red Barn

July 31, 2008

Red Barn Cider and Tulip Valley Wines\' tasting room are located in a big red barn in the Skagit Valley.

Research for an upcoming article in “Pacific Northwest,” The Seattle Times’ Sunday magazine on hard cider took us up to the Skagit Valley to meet with Drew Zimmerman, co-owner and self-described “cider-culture pioneer” of Red Barn Cider. We enjoyed the bright red barn that’s been converted into an atmospheric tasting room, and the bucolic setting amid four-year-old apple orchards and vineyards planted with Pinot Noir and other Puget Sound Appellation varietals. Look for my article, whose working title is, “The Cider House Rules,” on September 21.